I’ve been writing this blog for a few years now, and in that time I also had the honor of apprenticing my wife Cara in tattooing. The surprise which shouldn’t be a surprise is that I have learned as much in the process as I tried to teach. It’s a funny thing, we often know how to do something effortlessly and when the time comes to teach someone else that skill we just don’t have the words. It’s a whole separate discipline to take our knowledge and turn it into something that can be imparted to another. Teaching Cara has also taught me, it’s forced me to examine (and sometimes alter) the way I do things. Sometimes I would tell her to do things one way only to realize that I didn’t actually do things that way, this meant that I either had to change my “lesson” or change the way I tattooed to be in line with my words.
At the same time I had been practicing Zen Buddhism for years and had enough time to be able to look back and see what a huge difference it had made in my life. While I don’t think I would be qualified to teach anyone else Buddhism, I can share my own story and experiences as long as I made it clear that they were just that; one mans trip through life with Zen as my guiding philosophy.
Which is a long winded way of saying that I’m thinking of writing a book about tattooing and zen. I’ve come up with the wildly imaginative title of “Tattoozen”, and I plan to it to be a sort of guide for tattooing while being a balanced human being. What it won’t be is a a book that tells someone how to tattoo, I won’t be giving away technical tricks or the few “secrets” that others have been generous enough to share with me in person. In the same vein I also will strive to avoid any illusion that I’m teaching Buddhism, I really do think that should be left up to those with a lineage and years of experience. Even with those guidelines I feel like I have a lot to say that would be of use to tattooers.
So I’m already planning for this book to be aimed at a narrow audience, tattooers and perhaps artists in general. But I do feel that if anyone needs a book on balance it’s tattooers! I love tattooing and I love my fellow artists, and I hate seeing people sabotaging themselves the way I did for years, this is my way of trying to help folks avoid the dumbest mistakes I made myself.
My plan is to write the book (I’ve started, but its early days yet) and if I can whip it into some kind of reasonable shape do a kickstarter and see if I could get it funded for self publishing. My wife will be having our baby in less than a month, it’s our first, so I don’t know how much I will be able to work on a book in the immediate future, but I figure if I put it out there in Internet land it has a chance of getting accomplished.